Don Bauder 9:40 p.m., May 21
Willie Gandara, Jr. sentenced to 6 1/2 years
Willie Gandara, Jr is nephew to former Sweetwater superintendent Jesus Gandara scheduled to go to trial in January
Former El Paso County Commissioner, Willie Gandara Jr., was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in a federal prison for drug smuggling. According to the El Paso Times, "In August Gandara pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to distribute marijuana, and to establishment of manufacturing operations to distribute marijuana."
According to the Times article, United States District Judge Frank Montalvo, in referring to a sentencing document filed by Gandara's attorney "told Gandara he wasn't impressed with Gandara's charity work, including donations of more than $30,0000 to veterans, college-bound students, community organizations and needy families as part of the Grace Mercedes Foundation which Gandara established."
Montalvo went on to admonish Gandara, "The reality is that in the heyday of (notorious Columbian drug lord) Pablo Escobar, he was the biggest charitable contributor in the country. You were up to your neck in criminal conduct. You simply were a master of disguise. It's not about ego. It's about arrogance. You made the deliberate decision to lead a double life."
Willie Gandara, Jr is nephew to former Sweetwater superintendent Jesus Gandara who is scheduled to appear in court in San Diego at 9:00 am, January 7. Several Sweetwater board members were indicted along with Gandara for alleged participation in the "pay-to-play" South Bay scandal. Charges range from filing a false document to bribery.